Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

The F-Word

Two of my professors used the F-word in class this week. That's right, "finals." Seems like the semester's just started, and already it's time to worry about actually opening the casebooks and doing some reading. As a 1L, finals are scary because they're new, and you don't know what to expect, or where you stack up… as a 2L, finals are scary because last fall as 1Ls we got about a month to study (finals after winter break), and this time we get about three days (finals before break). So the week I spent making an outline for criminal law that would eventually prove relatively useless is now condensed into about three hours of scrolling through my constitutional law class notes and deleting the limericks I wrote during lecture:

There once was a case named Brown
That made schools integrate all 'cross town
Think "equal protection"
Think "Plessy's rejection"
Think I'd better write this one down.

Heck, maybe I should keep the limericks and delete all the rest of my notes.

What makes it hard to really get nervous about finals this time around is that due to the fact that the recruiting season starts further in advance of when we'll actually be working than presidential candidates start campaigning for the next election (now there's a forced analogy…), many of us have jobs already lined up - and it's possible that no one may look at our law school transcripts ever again. And, as the familiar saying sort of goes, if an exam gets written in the forest but nobody sees the grade, did the exam ever really take place? Perhaps it's all just a bad dream - an 8-hour night's sleep spent taking a take-home in real-time, a nightmare of issue-spotting and conclusion-drawing. An event that takes place only in our subconscious, as machines grade the test papers while we try to save the dock… sorry, still trying to figure out what the Matrix movie I saw last night means. I have no idea what I'm talking about. It did look good in IMAX, though, although it cost more than a constitutional law study guide would, and I probably need that more.

There's sometimes a scrutiny strict
For when statutes seem to afflict
A race, not a gender
Although it depend-er
It's hard, oftentimes, to predict.

Yeah, that's a helpful one. What's been interesting about classes this year is that I've heard lots of people talk about how they'll be assigned the same cases for multiple courses. Topics like the dormant commerce clause (please don't ask me what that is), or environmental regulations, or "how to fake your way through being on panel without having done the reading" have come up over and over again. I can visualize the overlap fairly clearly - cases about education can fit in constitutional law, local government law, law and education, family law, federal courts, just off the top of my head; cases about bestiality can fit in animal law, family law, animal family law, family animal law, the law of nature…. It makes me imagine it's pretty possible to sign up for three courses and end up only having to read for two, because it would all overlap. Which I suppose is still more work than signing up for four classes and reading for none of them. Or signing up for no classes and writing a bunch of limericks and calling it a third-year paper.

There's speech that's protected and free
I don't know which speech that might be
But for sure, I suppose
There's an outline that knows
It's an outline that I'd like to see

I can also write haiku. But I don't think that'll do anything for my exam grade. The "f-word" is finals. But there's another f-word out there too. I'll leave that one to your imagination.